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Brooks Pure Cadence 2 Review: First Run Thoughts

Brooks Pure Cadence 2A few weeks ago I got a cryptic email from Brooks asking for my shoe size and mailing address. It’s been awhile since I’ve had contact with Brooks, but was hoping that maybe I’d be the recipient of a pre-release sample of the new Pure Drift zero drop shoe. I recently saw that Scott Jurek had a pair delivered to him in a giant chocolate egg, but alas I’m not Scott Jurek, and there was no chocolate egg or Pure Drift for me :). Rather, I received a package just prior to Thanksgiving that contained a pair of the forthcoming Brooks PureCadence 2 disclosure: these shoes were a media sample provided free of charge by Brooks).

I have to hand it to Brooks – if there is one thing they’re good at it’s marketing. The shoes arrived in one of the fanciest shoeboxes I’ve ever seen:

The shoes themselves were equally eye-catching – the Pure Cadence is a darned good looking shoe:

Brooks Pure Cadence 2 Side

Brooks Pure Cadence 2 Medial

Whereas I have reviewed the original iterations of the Brooks Pure Flow and Brooks Pure Slip Grit (both of which I liked), I never did buy a pair of the original Cadence. Thus, I checked the Running Warehouse blog for info on the update. RW reports that “the PureCadence 2 carries over the midsole and outsole of the original PureCadence, with a new upper featuring a redesigned Nav Band for better fit through the midfoot.” Thus, it seems that the major update is to the upper, which in this iteration includes a burrito style tongue (similar to the Green Silence).

Here’s a video from RW and Brooks detailing the updates:

So what are my first impressions of the PureCadence?

This is one of those shoes that feels very different on the run as compared to walking or standing still. When I first put them on my reaction was that they felt really soft and unstable, which is strange considering that the Cadence 2 is the “stability” offering in the Pure Project lineup. I did my usual single leg balance test and felt like the shoe tended to cave a bit toward the medial side of the forefoot – again, not what you’d want in a stability shoe. It is a comfortable shoe for walking if you like soft cushioning, but I was a bit worried about how they’d feel on the run.

Brooks Pure Cadence 2

With regard to fit, my initial impression was that they were a pretty snug shoe – not a lot of room up front, and not much vertical volume to the upper from top to bottom. I definitely felt a bit of a squeeze. However, much like I found with the Pure Grit, the manufacturer provided insole in the Cadence 2 was both thick and quite soft (5.5mm forefoot and heel). Swapping it out for a 1.7mm Skechers GoBionic insole increased volume by almost 4mm, which proved to be enough to make the shoe go from snug to plenty roomy (Skechers really needs to sell those things independently of the shoes for a few bucks!). The PureCadence 2 still does not have a wide forefoot by any means, but it’s sufficiently spacious for my medium width feet.

The upper of the Pure Cadence 2 is pretty highly structured – there is a prominent, hard heel counter, numerous overlays, and the fabric upper feels thick and plenty durable. The ankle collar is plush and cushioned, and interior fit and finish is great. As mentioned above, the included sockliner is thick and cushy, and it has a prominent arch support (this is reduced significantly by swapping out the insole.

Since the sole is unchanged from the original PureCadence, the dimensions should be the same at 22mm heel, 17mm forefoot. My size 10’s weigh in at about 9.5oz on my scale, so comparable to something like the Brooks Launch. The outsole is extensive (see photo below), and I expect that durability will be good.

Brooks Pure Cadence 2 Sole

I took the shoe out today for an easy 10K on the roads around my house – this was my first run in the shoes, so keep in mind that this is merely my first reaction (though as I have said before my first impression typically holds on future runs now that I’ve run in so many shoes).

Whereas the shoe felt really soft for standing and walking, it felt considerably firmer on the run – this might simply be because I tend to be a midfoot striker and the heel feels softer than the rest of the sole to me. It could also be that it was pretty cold out today, and soles tend to feel firmer in cold temperatures. I didn’t feel as noticeable a springiness in the sole as compared to the Brooks PureFlow, but again that could be due to the temp. The midsole of the PureCadence is composed of a mixture of BioMogo foam and Brooks DNA compound – the latter is supposed to adapt to the amount of force applied, and that may explain why the shoe felt firmer while running than in lower impact activities.


Let’s address a few of the “technologies” present in the PureCadence 2. I like to be honest in my reviews and not pull any punches, so here goes. One of my issues with Brooks, as well as with several other shoe companies, is that they tend to overhype technology. The PureProject is Brooks’ “feel-more-with-less” line of running shoes, but they seem to have a need to market the heck out of the so-called technology in the PureProject shoes.

I’m not the only one that feels this way – here’s what John Schrup at Rogue Running had to say about the impending demise of the Brooks Launch (a shoe that holds a special spot in my own running history):

“When it was announced that the Launch was to be discontinued, well, I don’t want to call it chaos, but s*** was ****ed up.  Women in the streets rending their Lululemon.  I know!  Seriously!  Mass jaywalking…Texas became the first state to make veganism the official religion.  Like I just said, s*** was ****ed up!  The design of the Launch reminds us of days before people missed workouts because their Garmin wasn’t charged; before people took gels on a 5 mile run; before people gave a s*** about over-pronation.  At the same time, the Launch are what most minimalist… err biomechanically appropriate… shoes should be, albeit maybe with a higher offset.  But you know what we’re talking about.  They’re foam, with complete ground contact.  Brooks, the number one brand at running specialty now, are dropping the Launch from their lineup, because Brooks believe that you can’t make a good running shoe without actually ****ing it up first, er, I mean adding a bunch of technology to it.”

Brooks Pure Cadence 2 ToeThe Brooks Launch was a great shoe because it was simple. The Brooks Flow, Grit, and Cadence are great shoes that I suspect are selling like crazy, and it’s not because of the “Nav Band” or the split toe. Quite frankly, I’m not convinced that either of these “technologies” do anything. The split toe doesn’t extend far enough back to be functional – if you follow the thumb-width in front of your longest toe method of fitting shoes (which I do), then very little of the big toe actually extends beyond the beginning of the split (see photo at left). What’s more, the split isn’t all that flexible to begin with (check out Eric Orton’s B2R shoes for a better implementation of a Tabi-style shoe design).

As for the Nav Band (the orange and black band over the midfoot seen in the photos), it’s a prominent “feature” of the Pureproject shoes, but it seems pretty redundant since the shoes have another (fairly effective) foot holding technology known as “laces.” I have yet to feel like the Nav Band on any of the PureProject shoes accomplishes much of anything, though I suppose if my laces came undone and fell off the shoes mid-run, the Nav Band might come in handy.

Brooks Pure Cadence 2 Heel

The one technology on the PureProject shoes that I do like a lot is the Ideal Heel, which Brooks refers to as an inverted heel, and others sometimes refer to as an undercut heel (see photo at right). The Ideal Heel removes the posterior flare found on the back of the sole of so many shoes, and moves the back edge of the heel to a level in front of the heel counter. I do feel like this will help shift the foot strike forward a bit for heel strikers, and it will reduce the lever arm that powers the foot-slap in a heel-striking runner (might help those prone to anterior shin splints). The inverted heel gives the shoes an almost Skechers GoRun like feel while standing – you tend to tip a bit backward if you shift weight posteriorly while standing in the shoes.


Despite my above complaints about the overhyped technology in these shoes, I finished my run today with a very positive opinion of the PureCadence 2. Because it’s heavily cushioned, it’s not a shoe for those wanting a barefoot-style feel. But, for those happy in the transitional zone, or looking to move down to less shoe from a traditional stability trainer, this would be a pretty mild step that accomplishes a lower drop and a nicely designed heel geometry. One note on the stability aspect of this shoe – I can’t honestly say that it feels any more stable than the Pure Flow, so I wouldn’t necessarily let that be a deciding factor in choosing between those two shoes.

I’m quite sure that the Pure Cadence 2 will sell very well for Brooks. It’s a great looking shoe, and has great step-in comfort for those wanting an ultra-cush feel underfoot. A further plus is that it actually sheds that somewhat excessive cushiness a bit on the run and provides a reasonably firm base of support. It’s a shoe that will work for any distance, and could easily handle a marathon if that’s your goal. It’s also a shoe that offers a fairly mild entry into the minimalist end of the running shoe spectrum – this is one you can move into without having to worry about shedding your cushioning too quickly. However, with the cushioning comes a lack of ground feel, so it’s far from a barefoot-style shoe.

In my opinion, shoes like the PureCadence 2 and Saucony Mirage are likely the future “center” of the running shoe spectrum. Lightweight, moderate drop, and plenty of cushion. It’s a pretty safe place for a beginner to start, and then add or subtract shoe as needed or desired. It’s definitely a shoe to consider in the transitional range.

The Brooks Pure Cadence 2 can be purchased on-line at Running Warehouse and Zappos. Outside of the US, they can be purchased at

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a biology teacher, track/soccer coach, and dad (x3) with a passion for running, soccer, and science. If you'd like to learn a little bit more about who I am and what I do, click here, or visit


  1. Ashwyn Gray says:

    Really nice review, as usual, Pete. I appreciate your remarks about the “technologies” here. I’ve shied away from the Brooks line in large part because of that. But, of course, their products definitely get a lot of people running. So, at least there’s that bit of the bright side of marketing hullabaloo.

  2. Mike MacKellar says:

    One comment – I don’t think it is a proper review of the shoe as sold when you swap out the insole before your first run. If you want to do that after testing that is fine, but all of us don’t have other insoles to swap in.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Brooks Pure insoles tend to be thicker than almost any other shoes I have worn – if you have any other running shoes, you probably have something thinner to swap in. And I think you can get the gist of what the shoe feels like with the included insole since I described it as soft, with arch support, and that it makes the shoe a tighter fit for me. All of us have slightly different feet, so feel is always going to be a bit subjective.

      Pete Larson’s Web Links:
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      • Every Brooks I’ve ever run in has a thicker insole than any other shoe I’ve ever run in. Coincidence?

        • Pete Larson says:

          Step-in comfort sells shoes in stores. Brooks is number one in specialty retail, they know what they’re doing. But, they do make very nice shoes, and insoles are easy to change.

          Pete Larson’s Web Links:
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          -Runblogger Blog <http:“”>
          -Pete’s Twitter: Personal <http: oblinkin=””””>and Runblogger<http: runblogger=””””>
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  3. Monica Escobar says:

    hey guys am a PLTW engineer student and am lookin for people that have used minimalist shoes to take this simple survey! I’m trying to produce a better instrument to measure the fit of these shoes! please it won’t take more than 5 minutes!

  4. Jesse Welling says:

    Maybe the 3mm In soles from Inov-8 need a review?

    • Pete Larson says:

      Thanks for the tip, may just do that. Skechers are 1.7mm, maybe I’ll offer to be a distributor ;)
      Sent from my iPod

  5. James Dunn says:

    I think it is appropriate to swap insoles, even when doing a review. I would want the fit I would have if I purchased the shoe. I often swap or remove the insoles because a shoe that is too loose can always have the laces tightened but there is nothing I can do about one the feels too snug except return it. My foot measures average width per the guy at the Redwing work shoe store, that has a real fancy machine to measure width, but most running shoes are too narrow and don’t have enough volume if I leave the provided insole in. The insoles work real good in my leather moccasin slippers though. Provide that extra padding I need on the kitchen tile.

  6. Robert Osfield says:

    Oh how I wish shoe companies would ditch the “technology” nonsense in their shoes and marketing. As an engineer I probably more sensitive when it comes to the “technology” and “technobabble” which simply doesn’t make sense or is unfounded. I even go as far as saying I find it offensive, as I feel as a consumer we are being treated as fools that will lap any nonsense that they try to sell to us.

    Often the truth is too complicated to sell to a mass market, but for shoes I think the truth about what makes a good shoe is actually far simpler than the shoe companies would like to be known. Lightweight, good grip, good fit and a stable and consistent base is all what our bodies need from our footwear.

    If I were to sit down with the Brooks design team I’d throw away the split toe, throw away the nav band, remove the toe spring – as this is what will allow one to engage the big toe, simplify the midsole and sole and make sure the last is anatomical.

    • Pete Larson says:

      I agree, this press release I got from ASICS awhile back is the worst offender I have seen on the overhyped technology front:

      “Debuting as the lightest and most flexible model, the GEL-Lyte33 introduces five of ASICS’ new F.A.S.T. (Featherweight ASICS Speed Technology) innovations to improve speed. ****

      **· **F.A.S.T. Drop, a lower heel-to-toe height differential, similar to the geometry seen in a racing flat, encourages fasterrunning.****

      **· **F.A.S.T. Heel, the internal structure is minimal, in order to provide heel stability.****

      **· **F.A.S.T. Sole, the use of less rubber on the outsole also helps increase speed by reducing weight.****

      **· **F.A.S.T. Ride completes the package with a firm and responsive ride.****

      **· **F.A.S.T. Trusstic, a very thin, lightweight Trusstic System designed for fast an efficient running.****

      ** **

      “The ASICS 33 Collection has proven to be truly innovative in the lightweight running shoe category,” says Brice Newton, Running Footwear Manager, ASICS America. “We continue to incorporate new technologies and the GEL-Lyte33 is our latest innovation that offers a fast ride, comfort, cushioning and flexibility.”

      In other words, “FAST” technology is removing most of the “technology” they put in their other shoes.

      Pete Larson’s Web Links:
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      • Robert Osfield says:

        Reminds me of the word “Turbo” that used to added to product names for a huge range of items that had no turbines in them whatsoever.

        Have you ever had to opportunity to question the shoe companies about this type of hype? Perhaps a community poll might be used for giving companies feedback on how the we runners view such hyperbole.

        Personally I find it the more hype the more I’m turned off from considering buying products.

        • Pete Larson says:

          Th thing to remember is that most running shoes are worn by people who don’t run :) Marketing works. You don’t tend to see this kind of nonsense applied to true racing flats (or trail shoes I suppose) targeted at hard-core runners.

          Pete Larson’s Web Links:
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          • Robert Osfield says:

            That’s a good point, most running shoes aren’t sold to runners and I’d add the point that most running shoes aren’t sold by serious runners.

            Last spring I went into one of my local sports shops to buy a running shoe for my eldest daughter and I looked across the shoe wall and spotted a shoe from K-Swiss that looked pretty minimal. It was very light, small drop, sensible last, very flexible and breathable so I picked it out and gave it to my daughter to try – she liked the look as well, we were both happy.

            Then the assistant who got the right size shoe for my daughter to try on on hearing that she wanted it for running insisted that an Asiacs would be better and brought out an example to try as well. It took one look over them, they were heavier, less flexible, huge sole and drop on them and said no thanks. He was persistent though, insisting that it was the better running shoe and he wore them.

            When I explained the differences and why I felt the K-Swiss shoe was a better shoe he wouldn’t give up. Eventually I dropped that I was a serious runner, and was training to run a two marathons in a day and he finally backed off and allowed us to make our own decision.

            Thankfully me fending off the assistant gave my daughter time to properly try on the K-Swiss shoes and she really like the fit and feel of them when she jogged around the shop. My daughter made the same decision as I was hoping she’d make.

            I couldn’t help feel that many others would have been bullied into buying what the shoe assistant was convinced was a better “running” shoe.

          • Pete Larson says:

            I wonder if he had a sales performance incentive to push the Asics shoe?
            Sent from my iPod

          • Robert Osfield says:

            I didn’t get the sense it wasn’t a sale push, if anything the K-Swiss shoe had higher billing on the wall. I got the sense that he genuinely believed Asics had the better running shoe. I assume that he viewed the K-Swiss as a fashion shoe rather than a running shoe.

            I suspect he had little idea of bio-mechanics or what makes a shoe good for a runner, instead fell back on ingrained sales dogma and his own world view based on what he runs in. His attitude was very much from the standpoint of an expert, even though from what he said it showed that he really didn’t understand event the basics.

            This isn’t the first time I’ve come across seriously misguided advice from sports shoes sale assistants. Perhaps it’s just the UK retail outlets suck at training and keeping up to date.

            I get the sense that few shoe companies actually help things in terms of educating sales staff, rather what they push to retail outlets is it’s just this year’s latest technobabble building upon what nonsense that blurted out for last year’s greatest ever footwear.

            I doubt that many shoe companies are up to admitting that they were talking complete crap all these years. The pontential for blogging is to get real runners testing shoes and exploding the myths that the shoe companies push.

            Perhaps we need an annual “talking utter crap” award for each year to highlight the worst offenders.

          • Pete Larson says:

            “Talking utter crap award” – I like it! Things are highly variable from store to store in the US I think. At specialty shops you’ll probably do much better than at a sporting goods store, but even there it depends on the philosophy of the store owner and the knowledge of the employees on staff. The shoe shop in my home town does the arch scan business, whereas the specialty chain in NH still seems to use the jog across the store and watch people’s ankles technique. However, both are open to minimalism as an option, which is good.

            I think there is a huge role for the shoe companies to play here, and they deserve more of the blame than stores in many cases. Most sales clerks at my local store are college kids, and there is huge turnover, so training is a constant battle. From discussions with a guy I chat with there often it sounds like the shoe companies do most of the training on fitting, so they control the message. Just scan the fit guides of the major brands on their websites even today and you will see what they are likely promoting. It’s easy to pin people into categories as a way to sell shoes, it’s a lot harder to say everyone is an individual and fitting is more art than science where experience trumps any formal protocol. Problem is its hard for a store to pay someone enough to stay for the long term where they can gain that experience, so you wind up with maybe just a few people in a store who have it.

            Pete Larson’s Web Links:
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  7. Luke Thomas says:

    Pete, I think it’s time to create your own shoe. I would buy it!

  8. Stephen Boulet says:

    Brooks, please send Pete a pair of Pure Drifts. I like to live vicariously. ;)

    Oh, and Pete, about that born2run review … :D

  9. I have just released a pair of Pure Cadence 1. My first thoughts were similar to yours: it feels as if they had a higher midsole in the mid foot and, while standing, I thought of the Sckechers Go Run. The “ideal heel” seems to be very noticeable. Thanks to it, the heel is lighter, and you realize when running. Mass distribution changes: lets say it feels like a front-wheel drive car, rather than a rear wheel drive one :D

    On the other hand it is not very roomy, and actually I also removed the insole and used a thinner one (good idea). Still I would like it to be wider. Cushion is ok for me, not too much I think, but it does not allow a lot of sense of the terrain.

    Overall, I expect it will make a good job as a transitional shoe.

  10. Nikos Pilikas says:

    Thanks for the review!
    What are the characteristics of the shoe that contribute to a more stable ride, compared to flow and connect?

  11. Geoff Alonso says:

    Looks good, decisions will need to be made when my Wave Riders finally get retired.

  12. i usually order size 9 for my shoes so what shoe size should i order with these kind of shoes? should i go 9 1/2 or just 9?

  13. Jenna Hunt says:

    I bought brand new PureCadence2’s in March, and just two months later, I was getting tendonitis from the shoes being worn out. I’ve been training for a half marathon, and I weigh only 115lbs, so this surprised me.

  14. Thanks very much for your great review. I’ve scored a pair of Pure Cadence2 & Pure Flow2 on clearance to put in my rotation. I found them too snug but your advice about changing out the insole helped a great deal.

    2 questions – 1) is it ok to just remove the insole entirely if I don’t miss the cushioning? (I’m used to NB minimus 10 so I don’t mind firm.) 2) The nav band drives me crazy on my foot that’s a wee bit bigger. Even w/out the insole it feels too tight across the top of my foot after a little swelling on the run. Would it be a mistake to just cut it?

    Thanks so much!!

    • Running without the insole should be no issue as long as the surface underneath is not abrasive to the bottom of the foot. I also don’t think that cutting the nag band will compromise the shoe in any significant way. I find it pretty useless.

      • Great, thanks very much! (It was probably autocorrect but I like “nag band”) Getting my scissors out…

        • I have exactly the same problem as you do with Purecadence 1. My feet are sore because of these crappy nav bands. Did you finally cut them off? Did it helped? I am about to do it myself but I don’t want to ruin them… just looking for someone who already tried that.

  15. I have a pair of Pure Cadence (v1) and I love them. A big improvement over what I was running in. Personally the snug fit I saw as a plus, it felt great to me. As per reviews they shredded my calves the frost 2 weeks of use but to be expected when getting off your heels.
    You say these V2’s are still a good buy for some one “happy in the transitional zone” and be a “pretty mild step that accomplishes a lower drop”.
    As a V1 owner what do you think would be a good next mild step in that same direction?

    • I assume you are talking about moving more minimal? Maybe something like the Saucony Virrata for zerod drop with cushion, or Sacuony A5 for 4mm drop with less cushion. Could also try the Brooks Connect v3 as it fits a bit better than previous versions and is less shoe than the Cadence.

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